Things to love in BW8

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A series on new features in BibleWorks 8

 

Updates to BibleWorks 8

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Whether you’re a current user of BibleWorks 8 or still someone sitting on the sidelines, you might have missed a number of really significant improvements that have been made to the program since it was initially released. These updates are all available through the program’s auto-update feature, but sometimes people don’t pay attention to that. For the record, I wanted to ever so briefly highlight the two most significant updates thus far.

The first has to do with the Phrase Matching Tool (PMT) and Related Verses Tool (RVT). In the initial BW8 release, both of these tools could only be used well for the Biblical texts. With recent improvements, it is now really easy to search across all language versions. What this means in practice is that one can use either of these tools on a corpus like the Apostolic Fathers to see if there are any related verses or phrases that match not simply with other verses in the Apostolic Fathers, but also with any verses in the Bible, Josephus, Philo, or any other user version you have in the program. Both of these tools are really powerful, speedy and incredibly insightful and now even more amazing than before. If you haven’t had a chance to play with this new feature update, give it a whirl!

The second excellent update has to do with tabs in BibleWorks 8. When it was initially released, BibleWorks 8 had tabs that worked just like they did in BibleWorks 7. With the latest updates, you can now name your tabs and quickly toggle back and forth from one to the next with various key-strokes (control-tab or control-shift-tab). Now instead of thinking, gee, was it tab #4 I had my Epistle study in or tab #5, you can create a tab and call it “Epistle Study.” This is a big improvement for the user experience and many people have already been really happy about it on the BibleWorks forums.

So those are two of the biggest improvements (in my opinion) which have come since BibleWorks 8’s initial release. None of these updates cost you the user a penny, they are freely offered as part of the privilege of owning a license and working with this company.

(Another major update which will make users happy is also in the works. Responding to some of their users who were a bit disappointed with the navigation of the Early Church Fathers module in BibleWorks 8, the BW8 staffers went back to the code in order to make it better respond to user desires. The result will be a greatly improved package. While the update is not yet available, it is just one more testament to BibleWorks’ continuing commitment to quality products and responding to users’ needs.)

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Hmm, well I don’t know, how about the fact that shipping begins next week!!

Thus saith Michael Bushell:

The first shipment of CDs and DVDs is scheduled to be sent from the replicator to our fulfillment house today. They should be shipping to users by Wednesday. They will ship in order of placement, except for priority orders which will ship first. It should take 2-3 days to work through the backorders. I apologize for the delays.
We wish all of our users a happy and blessed New Year.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Well the series is gradually winding down. Now that my academic term is over, instead of being left with ample free-time, I’m left scrambling to prepare classes for the NEXT academic term. Whoever said that teachers get breaks surely did not mean first-year teachers.

There are still a few features/additions to BibleWorks 8 that I haven’t blogged about, but I believe I have covered most of the major ones. There are a bunch of small things that are harder to blog about (increased performance of the BW map module in addition to small corrections to make place-names more accurate, the latest version of Westminster’s morphology (WTM), spell-checking in the BW Editor, various other program enhancements that will make more sense when you use it than they do with my mere explanation, the TNIV and NIrV, etc.). The time is quickly coming when shipping for BibleWorks 8 will begin, so I am eager for others to get their copies of BibleWorks 8 in their own hands so that they can begin sharing what they like best.

But, there’s still time for a couple more. So here goes with the fourteenth thing to love in BibleWorks 8, the Wordlist tab in the Analysis Window.

In previous versions of BibleWorks the wordlist was most conspicuous in the Search window. If I had an older copy of BibleWorks on my computer I’d post a picture here, so use your imagination. The wordlist could also be loaded using the Word List Manager (WLM). But in BibleWorks 8, they’ve added a new tab to the Analysis Window which now shows three different panes.

In the first and largest pane (on the left side), there is a full word list which contains all words in the search version in alphabetical order.

In the second pane (top right), you will find a list of all the words contained in a search. This can work two ways. If I do a search on the word “blue” in an English version and then click the Word tab, this pane will show me all the words contained in that search and their relative frequency. Along with the KWIC feature, this can be helpful in seeing relationships of certain words. A second way this works is if, after performing a search on a word from the wordlist, you click on a word found in this upper right pane, it will give results for BOTH words A and B. So it quickly allows a search within a search.

Finally, the third pane (bottom right) tells you what you are searching for. It looks rather plain but its power comes when searching using wildcards, or when searching on lemmas in a morphologically-tagged version. This window displays all the words searched, allowing you to see if you are obtaining unwanted search results. Used in this way the wildcard expansion of the command line window is a tool to help refine your search. You can also click on a word in the wildcard expansion window to search on that word. At the top of the wildcard expansion title bar is the number of words in the wordlist.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Well it seems like there has been a lot of interest among users to learn more about the ERMIE or External Resources Manager, a new feature in BibleWorks 8, so I better get on with it already.

Feature number 13 to appreciate is none other than ERMIE…

Here is what the BibleWorks Help file says about ERMIE:

The External Resources Manager (Ermie) is a catalog tool to organize and quickly access resources stored on your computer and on the Internet. Included is a viewer for common types of resources, such as HTML files, PDF documents, and Word documents.

Ermie functions similarly to the bookmark feature in your Internet browser, but it also allows you to organize files located on your computer. You can create multiple Ermie catalog files and change catalog files according to your study needs. You can share Ermie catalog files with other BibleWorks users and import other Ermie catalog files into your own Ermie catalog file.

The default Ermie catalog file contains an organizational scheme and links to academic resources that BibleWorks users may find beneficial. You can add to, delete, and reorganize the folders and links according to your own preferences. (Inclusion of the links to the resources does not imply endorsement of the theology views contained in the resources, only that BibleWorks users may find the resources beneficial for scholarly research.)

Ok, me again. In other words, the thought behind ERMIE is that users need more help to organize materials they’ve been gathering. Here’s what that concept then looks like in practice.

Wow, such good taste in blog viewing!

Wow, such good taste in blog viewing!

So I imagine people will like how ERMIE helps them keep things together. Let’s say you want to start a one place receptacle for all your thoughts about Advent. If you’re like me, you might have some things in a folder on your computer called Advent. But what if you also want to include relevant web links, or what if you have a specific sermon or something you want to put in the Advent folder, but you also have it in a different folder and don’t want to reduplicate files. Well the ERMIE will let you store quick links to all of those things so now they’re in one place. Here’s just a quick example of what the process can look like for adding items from a folder. Obviously you can add a lot more things, but I just wanted to give a brief example.

Well, there you have it. That’s ERMIE. Granted I’ve been too busy to organize much on my computer, but I certainly like the THOUGHT of organization :) And hopefully you will too. The problem with bigger and bigger hard drives and more and more information available is that soon you need someone to help you keep track of all that information. ERMIE may not be the final answer, but as organizational tools go, it’s pretty cool. In addition, people can share their ERMIE catalogs. Although I haven’t yet figured out all the advantages of this (it would be fine for sharing web links, but you can’t very well share local files), I’m sure this will be helpful to some.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

A stack of ungraded Latin exams sits before me, but still I make the time to write about the twelfth thing I think you’ll love in BibleWorks 8, the Rodkinson translation of the Babylonian Talmud.

I know people who study the Hebrew Bible often lament that there are not as many resources available for them in Bible programs. Although this addition isn’t exactly cutting edge (the text is from an older, public domain edition, see here), it is still a welcome addition, and hopefully if the reception for this kind of work is positive, it will create an impetus to add more resources like it.

BibleWorks includes two versions of the Rodkinson Babylonian Talmud.

  • One edition appears as a searchable version in the Browse Window. This edition only contains the Mishna portions of Rodkinson’s Babylonian Talmud plus the Rashi comments (in parentheses) and commentary (in brackets) when they appear within a Mishna section. This edition is useful for searching in the Mishna.

  • The second edition is the complete Rodkinson Babylonian Talmud appearing in this HTML Help file. This format is best for reading the full content. You can use the search features of this HTML Help file to search the entire content, as well.

So I think with the two different implementations, there’s something here to please just about everyone. Unlike some of the other additions I mentioned earlier, this one probably won’t add hundreds of dollars of value to the BibleWorks 8 package, but compared to having no resource like this in earlier versions, it’s a good upgrade. Now I know it’d be great to have a newer edition like Neusner or even an original language resource here, but unfortunately the costs are still pretty prohibitive for adding them to the base package (At least this is my guess, assuming BibleWorks would have to charge what other publishers charge). Still, if this is something you’re happy about BibleWorks adding and want to see more things like this, do drop them a line and email them.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Wow, where was I? Although I am finished with all my final papers, I still have a bit of work to do to finish this quarter on the teaching side of the desk, so I have to save really meaty pictures for another day or so, but let’s make the eleventh thing to love about BibleWorks 8 the addition of the text of the Early Church Fathers series.

In BibleWorks 8, these are found as an HTML resource. So the text looks more like a book format (or as you can find it online at CCEL) rather than a Bible version (which means the ECF includes tagged Scripture refs, footnotes, page numbers, and page formatting). This has mostly to do with how complicated it would be to make versions out of these texts. I know because I and a few others tried before.

The texts do have the added benefit, however, that any time they have a listed verse reference in them to the Bible, when you are in that verse on the Browse Window, a link will show up in the Analysis Resources Summary just like you would find for a grammar or lexicon link.

Near as I can tell, the content is exactly the same as this package. The major difference is the price.

Things to Love about Graduate School…

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Unfortunately due to circumstances that I haven’t yet controlled (the last academic week of the quarter and upcoming finals), I don’t have the time or energy to finish the Things to Love in BibleWorks 8 series properly for a little over a week or so (but Jim may add a post or two). I know I’m pulling up a tad short, but this should only increase your character. Patience, indeed. So, refresh your screens, hit the BibleWorks forums for more details, and stay tuned for more. Trust me, I haven’t run out of things to talk about BibleWorks 8, just time.

Oh and if you can add to my knowledge anything about the archaeology of the Roman villa culture, maybe I’ll be able get back to blogging even sooner!

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Well I have delayed this one long enough, so for rounding out your top ten list (although when I wrote them I didn’t imply any ranking system, so it’s not like I’m trying to say #4 is better than #8) of things to love in BibleWorks 8 is the Related Verses Tool!

The Related Verses Tool (RVT) allows for powerful word searching at lightning-fast speed. The idea behind it is that this tool will enable you to quickly find verses that closely match the content of the search verse based upon the number of words in common between your search verse and the rest of the Biblical text. Here’s an example of what the RVT looks like in action.

Obviously this tool can be used for any language, but I think the Biblical languages really help this tool shine.

Finally, here is a small example of what this can look like if you use Louw-Nida semantic domain option in your search.

PMT vs. RVT?

The main difference between the Phrase Match Tool and Related Verses Tool is the things each is searching for. The PMT is searching for a connected ordering of words ( = phrases), but the RVT looks for similar words being used (in no particular order at all). Thus the two Tools do something similar in the sense that they enable users to find other verses with SOMETHING in common with your search verse, but the results for each will be very different because that SOMETHING in common which they are searching for is not the same at all. I don’t necessarily think one of the Tools is better than the other. I think both are handy and you will use both of them, but whether you use one more or the other less will depend on what exactly it is you’re looking for or what you think is important on any given search. If you’re wondering where an exact phrase is used before like “I am the”, you’re no doubt going to want to open the Phrase Matching Tool. The cool thing about the Phrase Matching Tool is that while you no doubt would have thought of searching that specific phrase before, it may bring out some other phrase that you hadn’t given much thought about before and show you some very interesting places where this other phrase occurs. As Forrest Gump once said, “…You just never know what you’re gonna get.” On the other hand, if you want to find a verse that uses the verb εὐχαριστέω and the noun πάτηρ that’s easy enough to do. But the RVT might help you see other verses that use those words (and other ones) that you might not have previously thought all that significant.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Let’s head back over to the Analysis Window for the ninth cool new thing in BibleWorks 8: the Context tab.

The Context tab is a new addition to the tabs in the Analysis Window. It is broken down into three parts: the context of the pericope, the context of the book and the context of the chapter. The first and largest section (in screen distribution) will list all words found in the context of the pericope. The pericope context is defined by the Bible Outlines and they can be changed at will. But let’s say you’re in Gen 1:1. The context tab will list all words in the pericope from Gen 1:1 to Gen 2:3 because according to the Bible Outline, the next pericope begins at Gen 2:4. (If you don’t like the default Bible outline, BibleWorks 8 has 6 others, or you can modify any or create your own and use that.) This flexibility allows you to at a glance see the vocabulary of any particular pericope. The Context tab works in any language and can be used in morphological versions as well. You can sort the list either by Frequency (default) or Alphabetically (right mouse click and done).

So here in its full glory is another example of the Context tab, this time using the BGM (Greek morphological version):

Okay. So far I covered the first pane in the Context tab, but there are two others. The one on the top right contains all the words found in the entire book of the passage selected. So if I am in John 7:3 in the Browse Window, the Context tab’s Book Context will show all words in the Book of John. Again, words are sortable by Frequency or Alphabetically. Lists can be copied to the Word List Manager or to the Clipboard if you want to do more with them. Clicking on a word in this list will display in the Search List all instances of this word so that you can examine them more closely in the Browse Window.

The final window (bottom right) is all words contained in the context of the chapter. So again, if I am in John 7:3 in the Browse Window, the Chapter Context window will show all words contained in Chapter 7 of the Book of John. Clicking on a word here will bring up in the Search List all occurrences of the word in Chapter 7 of John. Again, sorting can be done by Frequency or Alphabetically and lists can be exported to the Clipboard (or Editor) or to the Word List Manager.

Note BibleWorks 7 (and previous versions) had the ability to do all of this kind of work via the Word List Manager, but what BW8 did was make it easier (and quicker) to access this same material. I won’t spend much time talking about the value of this particular feature (that seems like a different type of post), but I will say if you are someone who likes to see how words (or what words) are used in these three areas, the context of the pericope, the book and chapter, the new Context Tab will be a great feature for you!

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

We’re finally up to the eighth thing you will love in BibleWorks 8. For this one I decided to pick out something which I found very interesting, even though I don’t think I can quite give it a five star review (I’ll point out the one shortcoming in the context of the review).

Oh, so I should mention what it is. It is the MacDonald Greek Textual Transcription. Earlier versions of BibleWorks introduced a Greek grammar by a guy named William G. MacDonald. Now I can’t vouch for this grammar much as I’ve never really used it before, but in it he has a section on a textual transcription technique:

Textual transcription is a syntactical technique that finds the joints in a block of Greek text, and keeping the biblical word order, copies the text in a new grammatical format. The  grammatical relationships and syntactical transitions are indicated by subordination and showing parallelism. The text always flows left to right, down a line at a time at the appropriate junctures. The great benefit of this method is that it causes the main ideas to appear, hinged by the text’s own transitions and highlighted by parallels.

Note that this is a way to see relationship between words, phrases and clauses in Greek. The Leedy Greek NT diagrams are another way to accomplish the same thing, but I think that MacDonald is on to something with his method of transcription.

As a Classicist I read quite a bit of material in original languages (Greek and Latin). If you’ve never had the opportunity to read a Ciceronian periodic sentence in Latin or a Thucydidean sentence in Greek, you’re really missing out on the beauty of the languages. English cannot compare to either language, and when those works especially are translated into English, even if done quite literally, there’s a lot lost in translation. Actually the real difficulty is trying to translate the sentence at all because there are so many clauses and conjunctions and all sorts of fun things there to get tripped over. But one of my professors taught us to “diagram” the sentences, very much in the way of MacDonald because it helps you to see relationships you normally would have skipped over. And over time, with practice, you don’t have to physically diagram every sentence, you just get better naturally at reading and seeing these relationships because you’ve trained your eye to know what to look for.

So unlike Leedy diagrams, these will make breaks along clauses. Each verb will get its own line and then things underneath it are lined up in accordance with his general rules. Here’s an example he gives:

If you’re familiar with normal syntactical diagramming you will notice this is very different. In my opinion it’s easier to read and much better for looking at overall relationships, but if you want your Leedy, you can go back to him.

So that’s what MacDonald does. What BibleWorks 8 then has is the entire textual transcription of the Greek New Testament done by MacDonald. It is integrated into BW8 as a HTML module. When you are in a NT verse, in the Analysis Window tab, you will find a link to the verse transcription in MacDonald’s Transcription.

Old McDonald had a farm. Will MacDonald had a Transcriber.

Old McDonald had a farm. Will MacDonald had a Transcriber.

Now here’s a look at that verse in William MacDonald’s Textual Transcription:

Look, it's in color!

Look, it's in color

If you look at this page image, you should see at once how “easy” his method of transcription is. There are no fancy syntactical symbol languages to learn. Basically you only need to use two keys, the “enter” key and the “tab” key. It’s really easy stuff to learn and get the hang of, and it will definitely help you read the languages better. Again, this is no replacement for those of you who love syntactical diagrams. This aims to do something slightly different.

Now I’ve personally never created any syntactical diagrams of any sentences, but I have done the sort of thing that MacDonald did here. I find his way both helpful for understanding and pedagogically efficient for teaching others to read languages like Greek and Latin better. I don’t mean to pit these two kinds of resources against one another (since they both come in BibleWorks). I’m simply saying that of the two resources, I find MacDonald more helpful than I find Leedy Diagrams. Obviously, others will have other opinions, but I think you will enjoy the visual aspect that MacDonald’s resource adds to BibleWorks.

Okay, now the one criticism I have. As this resource currently exists, all of the textual transcriptions in the MacDonald module are page images, not actual text. The reason this is a bummer to me, is because I’d love to copy and paste some of MacDonald’s work into my notes while working on a passage. But since it’s an image, I can’t do that. I could only paste a picture of his work into my text. Or, alternatively, I could quickly copy the text into the Editor or Word and imitate his transposition. It would take probably an extra minute or so per verse, so it’s not a game-breaker, it’s just a, well this is a nice resource, but I think it’d be better if it were all text rather than the images. To BibleWorks credit, I am sure it would be possible for them to convert it to all text, but they’re likely waiting to see what kind of feedback this resource gets before pouring extra development hours into it. So, after BW8 comes out, if this is a resource you get a lot of insight from, please don’t be shy about telling the BibleWorks people about it! They actually like hearing feedback from users.

I don’t quite know how I’d assign a monetary value to this resource, but in my opinion, however much you value the Leedy’s diagrams, chalk this one up for double that. At least that’s an indication of how much I like this mode of diagramming versus the more structured one in the Leedy version. This is not one of those things I ever would have thought BibleWorks is missing, but now that it has it, I’m thinking, wow, this is a really great resource.